The last couple of years have been hard for sales teams across the world; the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a major crisis for businesses and dramatically transformed the way customers look out for and buy products. In these uncertain times, every sales leader must find answers to two important questions.
- How can I make my business more flexible and resilient as it prepares to adapt to the new normal?
- What must I do to ensure my reps deliver the desired results and handle challenges of the future with high efficacy?
Enhancing productivity of sales teams plays a big role in the answer to these two questions. Your commitment to enhancing the productivity of your sales personnel will be critical to resolving major problems that arise during these trying times.
Let us now look at 5 sure-shot tips that enable you to maximize your sales productivity and overcome the challenges faced by your organization now (and in the years to come).
Tip 1: Set the Right Metrics to Measure Sales Productivity
One of the key aspects of developing a robust strategy to enhance sales productivity is identifying how well your salespeople are performing. But how can you do that? You may say you’ll set a goal and evaluate their performance against it. Unfortunately, the modern sales landscape is quite complex and using just one method to measure sales productivity will not be effective. Different companies use different methods – these can vary from the revenue generated from each rep to more complicated methods such as computing the ratio of expenses incurred to revenues earned. While each organization may believe the method employed by it is the most appropriate way to measure the productivity of its sales team, the formula given below can be applied to businesses of all sizes across the industry spectrum.
Productivity of a Sales Team = (The Ability of the Team to Utilize the Resources at Its Disposal to Make the Right Selling Decisions / The Number of Hours Spent on Performing Core Sales Tasks Such as Interacting with Customers) *100
While the amount of time spent on core selling activities can be easily measured, you may ask how you can quantify the ability to make the right selling decisions. The ability can be measured by the number of selling decisions that produced results. Let me explain this more clearly with an example.
Two sales teams A and B spend 35 hours in a week executing core sales tasks; both teams make 10 sales decisions i.e., pitching a product to a particular segment of the customers. Team A gets all its decisions right and sells successfully on all occasions. So, the productivity of sales team A can be calculated as follows.
(10 successful decisions / 35 hours) *100 = 28.57
On the other hand, sales team B also makes 10 selling decisions but only 5 of them produce the desired result (closure of deals). So, the productivity of sales team B will be as follows.
(5 successful decisions / 35 hours) *100 = 14.29
Various authors have suggested different versions of this formula but the essence of all is the same – a sales team’s productivity is a product of its efficiency (the time spent to make decisions) and efficacy (making right decisions).
Tip 2: Ensure Your Sales Process is Fully Optimized for Selling the Digital Way
Virtual selling isn’t a new phenomenon; people have been buying online for quite some time, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive shift towards virtual purchasing. The phenomenal growth in online selling has compelled many organizations to move most of their sales reps to inside sales, and this created serious sales productivity issues – disconnected processes, data and tools created havoc, and the organizations are having a tough time resolving the issues.
So, how can you overcome these challenges? You need to break down data silos and facilitate hassle-free collaboration across various teams. This can be done by creating a Single Source of Truth (SSOT). You can create an SSOT using a powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system such as Salesforce.
A good CRM platform also enables you to synchronize the tools used by your sales reps to communicate with prospects, enhancing the reps’ productivity considerably. Many sales reps use a wide variety of applications during their work such as email, messaging tools such as WhatsApp, virtual calendars and note-taking applications. Switching frequently between multiple tools can hamper their efficiency. This problem is effectively resolved when you connect the communication tools to the CRM system.
Tip 3: Leverage the Power of Automation to Boost Efficiency
As seen earlier, the productivity of your sales team is a function of its efficiency. You must empower your sales team to spend the lion’s share of its time in formulating the right strategies to close deals. Unfortunately, sales reps have to perform numerous mundane tasks that eat into their precious time, and this limits their ability to focus on sales strategy development and other core selling tasks.
This problem can be resolved very effectively by automating your sales process. Let smart Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered algorithms handle routine activities performed by your sales team, while it concentrates on generating more revenue. You can automate various tasks performed by your sales reps, but you begin with the two activities listed below.
- Logging Details of Customer Interactions
A study by Salesforce showed most salespersons spent more time logging details of the connects with customers in 2020 compared to 2019, and the procedures to log customer information are only getting stringent with each passing day. You can use a CRM system to capture information about customer preferences and history of orders automatically, with very high levels of accuracy saving significant amounts of time and effort.
- Updating To-do Lists
Many salespeople flip back and forth between their organization’s sales playbook and the list of tasks currently underway, while trying to find out how to go about further. This leads to considerable wastage of time. This issue can be resolved by integrating your sales playbook with your CRM system. You can configure the CRM system to automatically provide alerts about the next steps to be taken, thereby helping your sales team to take the right action.
Tip 4: Harness the Immense Potential of AI to Achieve Selling Success
Staying on with AI, you can use the novel technological paradigm to monitor the performance of their sales reps in real time, very effectively, and initiate appropriate action, if necessary. Most CRM systems such as Salesforce come with easily-configurable pre-built reports and dashboards that empower organizations to evaluate their sales teams against various key metrics such as attainment of quotas, sales pipeline generation and so on. The reports and dashboards allow sales managers to identify and analyze the winning techniques of successful reps, and other members of your sales team can be coached to use these techniques to get the intended results.
Another key capability provided by AI to sales teams is the ability to make adjustments to sales forecasts. Over the last couple of years, frequent and significant changes in buying behaviors are resulting in the need to make modifications rapidly to projected sales figures. This calls for a 360-degree view of the sales organization in real time and simplified access to thorough forecasts. You can leverage AI to forecast sales very precisely, in spite of longer sales cycles and changes in sizes of deals.
You can also use AI to identify the likelihood of a lead turning into a customer, enabling your sales teams to prioritize the prospects they need to connect with. Recent advances in Machine Learning (ML), a sub-discipline of AI, have resulted in the emergence of predictive analytics tools that help sales teams to analyze vast quantities of data to accurately score leads and come up with the right strategies to convert them into dollar-fetching customers. Here’s an interesting post that explains how you can use Salesforce to harness predictive analytics for scoring leads with high levels of efficacy.
Tip 5: Develop Continuous Learning Programs to Improve the Skills of Sales Teams
Skill enhancement is (and must be) a vital component of your strategy to enhance the productivity of your sales team. Proper training to your sales reps prepares them for various challenges that they are likely to encounter in the course of closing a deal. Many companies are developing mobile learning (m-learning) modules for their salespeople, which can be accessed easily on their smartphones anytime, anywhere.
It’s a good practice to ensure your sales team can access all learning materials at a single location. This will go a long way in eliminating problems in navigating to find the required learning resource(s). We suggest you use a robust Learning Management System (LMS) to train your sales reps. Most modern LMSs can be integrated with CRM systems and used to administer and track training programs with high levels of efficacy.
You must make sure the training programs are fully-tailored to the specific learning needs of each salesperson. The training programs should be created based on solid performance data and must help the rep to develop the skills need to close deals efficaciously.
As you can see, the 5 tips listed above go a long way in helping you improve the productivity of your sales team in a big way. At Solunus, our experts can work with you to resolve your sales productivity challenges, effectively, at low cost. Our rich experience gained helping sales organizations of all sizes across diverse industrial sectors coupled with a strong emphasis on comprehending your unique requirements allows us to develop the right solution that delivers the best ROI.
Hope you liked this post. How do you intend to improve the productivity of your sales reps? We’d love to know.
Solunus is a dedicated Salesforce partner organization, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Our unrelenting focus on comprehending the unique needs of our clients coupled with our unrivaled expertise of the Salesforce platform enables us to deliver the perfect solutions that create the best value for IT and business analytics firms.